I’ve always had bad eyesight. I remember when I was in high school I would always ask to sit in front or squint to see what’s written on the board. My parents urged me to get glasses but I was too vain to do it. I thought that only nerds wear glasses.
LOL who was I kidding anyway, I was part of the school paper, joined extemporaneous and writing contests, and spent time in the library. I was already a nerd.
When I was in 3rd year high school, I finally got glasses. My grade back then was -125. No astigmatism (thank God), just nearsighted. Because for me it wasn’t that bad, I only wore my glasses at home, and prioritized my vanity by day.
When I got to college, my grade shot up to -275. I wore my glasses at times, but most of the time I didn’t. I used up all of my money to go to debate tournaments so even with a part-time writing job, I still could not afford contact lenses.
After college, that’s the time I started wearing contact lenses. My grade became -300, still no astigmatism…and it stayed at that rate for 10 years. Ten years of half-assed partying, painful eyes during long flights and dry airplane air, limited extreme activities, et cetera. Until I decided to finally get LASIK.
I did my research and found Shinagawa Lasik and Aesthetics. Dubbed as “the #1 LASIK center in the Philippines”, with over 12 million successful procedures and several celebrities under their care, I was sold. It also helped that I had a few friends who had the surgery there. They all sang praises! Talked to an awesome consultant and got scheduled.
This blog will be about my experience, with some advice on expectations and costs. Read and print this out if you ever want to get a high quality LASIK experience.
After an initial call or a few text exchanges with Q, my consultant, you will be scheduled for a screening. The LASIK surgery screening will only run you P3,000. This is to determine if you are qualified for a LASIK procedure, and which procedure will be perfect for you.
When they call you, they will perform basic tests, and then give your eyes some drops to dilate your pupil. For this one, you will have to wait around 40 minutes to 1 hour for the drops to fully “perform”, then you can come back. You can have a snack or have tea at a nearby café.
The 3 most common ones are the Z Lasik, Z Prime Lasik, and the Ultra Lasik. Depending on your grade and issues, they will recommend the best one for you. Mine was Z Prime Lasik. An optometrist will test your eyes for laser sensitivity (really bright green light) and for this one, you might feel a little bit of discomfort. A few tears, but it’s okay. The doctor will explain your case then, and will recommend which procedure is best for you. It’s best to ask all the questions you have at this level of consultation because the doctors can really answer everything.
Expectations: You will spend a total of 2-3 hours for the entire screening process. Come at your scheduled time and then you will go through a number of queues. There will be several tests, both done by machines and doctors, so it will take a while. Bring a book or listen to a podcast or watch a movie if you want. Bring water, too.
For post-surgery recovery, I’d recommend checking in at a nearby hotel with black out curtains and room service. It’s good to have a friend or your spouse/ partner with you for at least the first 2 days, but you’ll be okay after that. I don’t recommend going out so much for the first 2 days after, so the room service would help you get your meals sorted. I checked in at a nearby hotel for 5 days.
After your screening, you will be scheduled for your surgery proper. The top 3 Lasik classifications require an investment of P70,000-120,000. Check out credit card/ bank partners for 0% installment deals, too.
(If you don’t live in Manila and like me, you will be flying in and checking in at a hotel, prepare another P30,000-50,000 for that.)
During the Surgery
Arrive early during the surgery. Maybe 15-20 minutes before your schedule. The entire process will take 3-4 hours because of the queueing and the different steps. You will wait for a bit, and then you will be moved to a room where they will give you your care kit.
Your care kit will have these items:
- Clear protective glasses – which you must wear for the first 7 days after the surgery
- Anti bacterial eye drops
- Anti inflammatory eye drops
- Saline/ fake tears eye drops
- Protective shells – which you must wear for the first 5-7 days after the surgery, when you sleep, along with an adhesive
You will be taught how to use them and you must bring this kit with you always, after the surgery. Just follow instructions and at the very end, you will be led to the pre-surgery room.
Then they will give your eyes a few drops for the anesthesia. By now, you will feel your eyes numbing, and a little enlarged. There’s no discomfort here, only a teeny feeling of numbness around your eyes.
They’ll call you and then you come in, they will lay you under a machine. The procedure is done with 1 lead doctor and 2 assistants. Q will be there, too. When the doctor already placed you in a certain position, they will adjust the machine. DON’T MOVE. Just open your eyes and relax.
The surgery itself is absolutely painless. There’s a little suction involved, and the lights will just to their thing. There will be very little discomfort, and it’s only less than 5 minutes per eye. Just follow the instructions (look at the green light) and then you’ll be good to go in no time.
The light isn’t blinding, it’s just a basic light. In fact, laser lights at a dim nightclub are more annoying. They will give you updates; as in: 10%, 20%, 70% done!
“Congratulations, you now have 20-20 vision!” They will applaud lightly and send you off. You will be able to see enough to walk, but if it’s nighttime the lightbulbs will have a little bit of halo. Don’t drive, just walk or ask a friend to come with you.
Expectations: come with a friend to assist you. Tell them that it will take 3-4 hours, max 5-6 hours. Block off a date for this, and devote that day for the procedure. Doesn’t matter if it’s morning or night. Always keep your eye drops with you. You will need to use the antibacterial and anti inflammatory ones, two drops each eye every 3 hours, NO CHEATING! More details later.
Post-Surgery Suffering (I Mean, Healing)
After my surgery, I walked out of the building and was in the mood for salad. I went to Saladstop (that was a mistake) and order a nice bowl of good old Ceasar’s. After 10 minutes, I began to experience pain in my eyes. I cried on my bowl (in public, lol) and then hailed a cab. I had my bestfriend Pam with me, who was my Lasik mommy.
Expectations: The anesthesia will start to wane on the 30 minute mark after your surgery. Go to your room directly, make arrangements for food and rest there.
You will start to feel pain—like when your eyes are too dry after a long-haul flight—or sometimes it also felt like there was a sharp pain, a sharp thing inside my eyes. At this point, you will uncontrollably “cry”, because your eyes will keep producing tears.
Your eyes will also force themselves to close and you will find it difficult to focus on anything. This is okay. Your eyes have been “wounded” inside so it’s trying to “recover” from the trauma. Again, you will be okay. Let the tears flow, close your eyes, listen to something to ease the boredom and lie down on your back. Relax. (I listened to some comedy for this.)
Wear your protective eye shells because like a baby, you are very likely to fall asleep after 3-4 hours of “crying”.
This is the MOST discomfort you will get, and it’s okay. It gets better after. Ask your friend to set your phone alarm to ring every 3 hours and make sure it’s fully charged. Every 3 hours, use your eye drops – 2 drops per eye—start with the inflammatory one, then the antibacterial. You have to do this and be faithful to this schedule for the first 24 hours. After that, you can just use the eye drops 3x a day, maybe when you take your meals.
The recovery is awesome. After 4 hours of crying and a long sleep, you’ll feel so much better. Just #trusttheprocess. Here are a few pointers:
Day 1 – After you sleep, your eyes will be able to open with less discomfort. Don’t stare at anything yet, and keep the room dark-ish.
Just enough for you to walk aroud. Try not to go out, just order room service.
Very minimal phone or laptop use, limit to a maximum of 10 minutes at a time. Eye drops 3x a day during waking hours, just the antibacterial and anti- inflammatory.
Day 2-3 – Your discomfort will be lessened significantly, and you will be able to open your eyes, walk around, and even go out.
Just wear sunglasses. You can use your gadgets for up to 30 minutes at a time (recommended screen time). Eye drops 2-3x a day.
Day 4-7 – You will mostly be back to regular programming by now. If you ran out of the anti inflammatory and antibacterial drops, it’s okay. Just use them until they’re done.
After those drops, you can move to using the fake tears (recommended brand: Systane) because your eyes will feel dry for the first few months after LASIK. Buy at least 3 small bottles of this: keep one near your bedside, one in your kikay kit/ bag, and one extra.
- When you bathe or wash your face, close your eyes and avoid water getting inside your eyes for the first week. Pat dry with a soft towel and don’t open unless it’s dry.
- Always wear the protective glasses for the first 7 days. After that, wear sunglasses when you go out during the day. Your eyes will still be quite sensitive to light.
- Avoid makeup during the first 5 days of your surgery, especially ones with powdered ingredients because the pigments could get into the eyes. You can use cream-to-powder products, BB cream, and lipstick. If you get oily during the day use oil blotting paper instead of powdering your face.
- Avoid any form of eye makeup for the first 7-10 days after surgery.
- Avoid the gym or any strenuous activities for at least 10 days.
- Avoid the swimming pool or the ocean for at least 2 months.
- Might help ease your recovery: book a relaxing massage on the 2nd or 3rd day after, drink Lutein supplements, eat fish and leafy greens for better cell recovery, drink lots of water.
- Avoid drinking because it might aid in dehydration. At least for the first 7 days.
- Never ever rub your eyes and avoid touching them. If you feel like they’re itchy, distract yourself.
- Limit use of gadgets and social media for the first few days. Nothing is THAT important.
A really big factor for me was having the right consultant. They will really take care of you and will be in touch. So, really HUGE shoutout to Queenie (+63 917 791 8898) for giving me such great support, as well as 3 of my friends (who had their surgeries in less than 30 days after mine).
You can get in touch with her, tell her I sent you and buy her some fine wine. She’s really wonderful and I don’t think I’d have the same good experience, overall, if I wasn’t assigned to her.
Shinagawa Lasik and Aesthetics is located at The Enterprise Bldg., Ayala Ave. Cor. Paseo de Roxas. It’s a mere walking distance from Greenbelt. Get in touch with Queenie for questions and schedules – 0917 791 8898.